Thursday, January 27, 2011

An easy way to increase Vista performance using ReadyBoost

1 GB of SDRAM mounted in a personal computer. ...Image via Wikipedia
Whenever we think about increasing our computer's performance, the first thing we think of is increasing RAM (memory). For the novice computer user, opening up the case and installing memory is out of the realm of consideration. An easy way to increase the memory is to use the ReadyBoost feature of Windows Vista.
When you try to do things on your computer that don't have enough RAM, the system uses the paging file. The paging file is a small area on the hard disk that is used and is called virtual memory
When information is swapped back and forth between physical and virtual memory, it is called paging. The more memory the system has, the less the system has to access the hard disk to retrieve data, and the faster the performance. However, more RAM is not always a good option. Your system might not have the capability to hold more RAM, not to mention the fact, that RAM is not cheap.

You can add more virtual memory by increasing the size of the paging file.  This is done in the Performance Options dialog box. Most of the time, you should choose to have the system "Automatically manage paging file size for all drives". The recommended size is 1.5 times the amount of physical memory.
If your computer starts to display a lot of messages about running out of virtual memory, you should increase the initial and maximum size of the paging file. However, if your computer starts to run slowly after doing this, you need to add more physical RAM.
Windows Vista has an enhanced feature called SuperFetch. SuperFetch is an enhancement to Prefetcher, a feature in earlier Windows versions. Prefetcher stores program information so that programs and processes that run often are able to run faster. Vista has enhanced Prefetcher's intelligence and calls it SuperFetch.
Windows Vista also has a feature called ReadyBoost. ReadyBoost improves performance by using flash memory, rather than hard disk, to store and access frequently used data. The hard disk is good for accessing large amounts of data and ReadyBoost is not used for this.   
SuperFetch intelligence gets the small portions of cache that are slow to access from the hard drive and makes a copy of it onto the flash drive. A copy of the cache is kept on the hard disk. ReadyBoost keeps both copies in sync, so that if the flash memory is lost, there is no loss of data. The data on the flash drive is compressed and encrypted using government-strength AES encryption, so if the drive is stolen, they will not be able to read it.
It is recommended to have a 1:1 ratio of solid state memory to RAM.  Four GB is the maximum size for ReadyBoost  Because of compression, you actually get 8 GB of storage.
Not all flash drives are ReadyBoost capable. If you want to see if your flash drive is ReadyBoost capable, simply plug the drive into the USB slot. Vista will analyze the drive and let you know. Select the "Speed up my system" option. The flash drive must be USB 2.0 compliant. 
If you have plenty of RAM, you probably won't see much of a performance increase.  However, if your system is deficient in memory, you are likely to see an appreciable increase in your system performance.
ReadyBoost changes in Windows 7
Windows Vista - SuperFetch and ReadyBoost
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